You can file this one under “Things No One’s Really Surprised About;” it’s right behind the Mayweather/Pacquiao decision, but just before your favorite DJ’s latest mix getting pulled from Soundcloud.
We Are Your Friends, or as I call it, How to Piss Off An Entire Genre of Music Fans, finally opened this weekend in theatres across America. As most EDM fans speculated, the movie did poorly in its first few days out, and is quickly becoming a nightmare for Warner Bros.
“We’re disappointed,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president. “We believe in Zac and this was a passion project of his.”
Disappointed is getting a C on a test you studied really hard for. This is a disaster. WAYF saw the fourth worst opening weekend for a nationally released film; racking up $1.8 million to open, with a $6 million budget (losing over $4 million), is no bueno. To put this embarrassing number into even more perspective, The Adventures of Pluto Nash opened with $2.1 million its first weekend; that movie would also go on to earn a 5% Rotten Tomatoes rating and nomination for Worst Movie of 2003. While Zac Efron’s career misstep probably won’t gain him an Eddie Murphy level of notoriety, the fact remains that this film was a complete disaster.
But the real question is how did this fail? Let’s start with the plot: a washed up DJ and his girlfriend work with a slightly clueless DJ and his bronies to try and make it big. It completely romanticizes the idea of EDM, leaving out the real intricacies and killing its credibility. Bonus negative points for dumbing down Emily Ratajkowski‘s role to generic female lead and having no other females represented in the film. Lack of support from anyone in the dance music industry didn’t help either. From the moment people got word that Zac Efron was going to play the lead through the debut of the film’s trailer, everyone from Deadmau5 to GTA skewered WAYF.
However, nothing is more liable than the fact that the film was poorly marketed and came out on the worst weekend possible for its target audience. Warner Bros. missed out on a golden opportunity to market within the dance music industry. A company with a limitless supply of money could have gone as far as sponsoring a We Are Your Friends stage at Ultra, or at least get a few promo girls to hand out flyers during EDC Las Vegas. But Warner Bros. stuck to the same model of TV and Internet ads, never really creating any positive buzz for the release. To make matters worse, the cast interviews with Efron, Ratajkowski, and director Max Joseph claiming to be ambassadors for EDM only further alienated themselves from the community .
Maybe, if the studio hadn’t picked the weekend before Labor Day to release a movie catering to people under 25, it might have stood a fighting chance. Asking college students to give up even 90 minutes on their first weekend of college for a film they were already partially disinterested in was probably the telltale sign that Warner Bros had zero faith in this film and wanted to bury it as quickly as possible.
Kudos to the public for sending a message to other film studios in the US, though. If you’re going to make a movie about EDM, you better do it right, or else you won’t make it out of opening weekend alive. We Are Your Friends is currently in theatres nationwide, but don’t expect to be able to go and see it for much longer.
H/T Vanity Fair